Well, for the lucky part of the world, it’s that time of year again! That’s right, time to start thinking about the upcoming golf season. For me, my amateur tour kicks off at the end of March, so I only have about 2 months to get in tournament shape. This includes physical shape, mental shape, and also ensuring that my technical skills are ready for the test. Today’s post will be my approach to getting ready for the upcoming season.
Just a quick note before I get started. I want to mention that my fitness approach is more tuned to the advanced level athlete. If you are not familiar and/or very comfortable with the exercises and approaches outlined, please seek the advice of a trainer. I do however plan on doing a post titled “The Ultimate Guide to Golf Fitness for Beginners” in the near future, so stay tuned if you are interested.
Golf Preseason – Fitness
Hopefully you remember my posts titled “My Ultimate Guide to Golf Fitness” Part 1 and Part 2. If you recall in part 1 of the series I indicated that I believe an advanced golf specific training routine should be quite similar to that of a power athlete (i.e sprinter, jumper, small football player). I outlined my rationale in that post, but it basically boils down to the fact that the golf swing is fast and short, with a significant amount of rest between swings. The only level of endurance that is needed is to be able to walk your full round of golf without getting fatigued so you can still feel fresh on your last full swing of the round. At the end of the day, high intensity intervals like sprint intervals should be absolutely sufficient to create a level of endurance to allow you to comfortably walk a round of golf.
So why do I bring all this up here? Well, because if power is what is needed for golf fitness, then I will be focusing on strength and power development in the preseason to get ready for the on course demands I will face. Remember, absolute strength + speed = power.
In the past 2 months I have actually been doing more of a “smart” bodybuilding program. What this means is that I have decreased the amount of absolute strength and power work and increased my endurance (i.e bodybuilding) lifting. So as an example, my recent routines have looked something like this:
3×3 Weighted Chin-up
Superset 3×10 of shoulder press & lateral raise
Superset 3×10 of weighted push up & dumbbell flys
Superset 3×10 chin-up and supine row
3x max rep reverse flyes with 15-20 lbs
With these workouts, I still have enough strength volume to keep my absolute strength levels up, along with the higher rep growth stimulus. Honestly, my only reason for changing my routine was for vanity reasons. I wanted to get a bit bigger, period. It had nothing to do with training for golf. However, now that we are approaching golf season I need to alter my training to ensure I have peak strength and speed for the golf season. As such I will be setting my training up as follows:
3-4 Days/week including the following:
Day 1: Heavy (4-5 x 3) deadlift work
Heavy (3-5 x 5) Push/pull work (i.e chin-up & shoulder press)
Short (5-10 min) high intensity weight/body weight circuit
Day 2: Heavy (3-5 x 5) squat work
Heavy (3-5 x 5) push/pull work (i.e. weighted/one-arm push-up & row variety)
Short (5-10 min) high intensity weight/body weight circuit
Day 3: 5-6 x 1-3 Olympic lift (either power snatch or power clean)
Some type of low rep plyometric work (i.e. max height box jumps not done to fatigue)
Day 4: Sprint intervals 30 mins max
As always, the above will be supplemented with mobility work.
Golf Preseason – Technical Skill
Depending on the winter climate where you live, many of us do not have consistent access to fantastic conditions during the winter months. Luckily enough I live in the only region in Canada where the courses are open all year round, but like I said, conditions are far from perfect. Therefore, a lot of winter practice is restricted to the driving range. Although I did write a post on off season tips and tricks to keep your game in sound technical shape when the cold air hits, most winter practice is severely limited in chipping and putting. Also, when we stop practising, the first thing we usually lose is the finesse part of the game; that’s right, we lose our touch around the greens.
If you have not been hitting the range frequently during the offseason, your first step is to get to that range as much as you can. After that, you need to come up with a plan to get your short game in tip top shape. In the above mentioned post I gave some advice for those of you that still cannot get outside; for me, the weather will be taking a swing for the better very soon, so here is my plan, and boy is it a doozy!
1.) Get out on the practice green as much as humanly possible.
2.) Putt, chip, pitch, repeat!
3.) Get out on the course whenever possible.
Told you it was a doozy. Catch the sarcasm, LOL!
Golf Preseason – Mental Game
Even if you have been hitting the range frequently in the offseason, if you haven’t actually been out on the course, there is no doubt that your mental game has taken a hit. We need to practice our mental game approach just as much as the physical aspect of the game. A round of golf sometimes can get pretty gruelling on the mind, particularly if you are playing in a competitive tournament. So how can we prepare our minds for the upcoming season
First, recall what approaches have worked for you in the past.
1.) Remember your swing thought
2.) Practice your concentration
3.) Get prepared to not let anxiety on the course bring you down
4.) Recall how perception of a stressful situation can affect your performance
6.) Just expect to have some fun
Second, visualize yourself actually playing rounds of golf in your head. Studies have shown this is beneficial for sport performance (1, 2, 3). This can be done anywhere that you can close your eyes for a minute or 2. You don’t need to play a full round of golf in your head, just do it shot by shot throughout the day. For example, try and picture yourself on the first tee about to hit your shot. Experience the feelings and implement any of the above approaches you normally use. Then, feel yourself make the perfect swing and visualize the flight of the ball. Hold the picture in your head and then open your eyes. Repeat this for every type of shot you can think of taking on the course as many times as you can. Personally I find that a great time to do this is during my meditation practice, or at the end of a yoga session during the final pose Savasana.
Finally, when you are at the range, make sure you do your best to imagine your are actually on the course, and try to feel those same emotions. This takes a bit of pretending but it will go along way in actually preparing you for upcoming rounds. Much more effective than standing there whackin’ away at ball after ball without any focus. Like they always say, practice like you play!
Hopefully implementing all the above will be sufficient for us all to start off our season yet on the best note possible!
The Barefoot Golfer